Robin Swann: Up to 70% of NI population may need vaccine before we can end restrictions

Stormont Health Minister Robin Swann has said up to 70% of the population may need to be vaccinated before they can safely call an end to any more restrictions.

He was speaking just moment’s ago at the evening’s press conference, during which Michelle O’Neill declared news of a UK vaccine “the beginning of the end” for the pandemic.

But he warned there is still a lot of road to walk before we have seen the back of Covid-19.

Mr Swann said: “I don’t think we’ve set an exact figure on the level of vaccination or immunity that will be neccessary before we can see the lifting of all restrictions.

Robin Swann

“There are some scientific papers in regards to what is neccessary for the wider immunity to actually have any effect, and vaccine take-up would be indicated around 70%. So it’s a high level.”

He also said though that, when you look at flu vaccination for example, people are well “engaged” with the process of mass vaccination.

Deputy First Minister Michelle O’Neill said ministers would this week discuss plans for after Northern Ireland’s circuit breaker ends later this month.

She added: “We want to be able to communicate to people well in advance, we intend to be able to get an executive decision tomorrow and then move to place the regulations directly afterwards.”

Stormont Health Minister Robin Swann said: “Today is a good day, make no mistake about it, but remember we have many more steps along this long and difficult path to go.”

He added: “We are facing a long and deep winter and the health service will continue to face extreme pressure.”

He said letting complacency creep in now would be “unforgiveable”.

He said the vaccination programme would be a “mammoth and long-term” operation and urged patience.

“Things will get better slowly but surely.”

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